Almost everyone in Poland at some point of history lessons heard about the bear named Wojtek that served in Polish Army. Where did this fluffy artillerist come from, how did the bear end up among polish troops and why the 22nd Company?
One of the biggest forces of Polish Army during the World War II was 2nd Corps, established in 1943 on the Palestine soil. The main core of the unit were soldiers evacuated in 1942 from USSR among with millions of polish citizens. After the soviet-polish pact made in 1941, USSR agreed on creating military forces made of Poles and led by general Władysław Anders. The recruitment included also women, elders and children, who were looking for an escape from soviet slavery, poverty and persecution. Leader made a decision about evacuating the civils and professional troops to soviet republics in Middle Asia, and further to Middle East through Iran. It is exactly in Iran where bear Wojtek and the polish troops crossed path. Soon he became like a brother to the other soldiers and started serving in 22nd Artillery Supply Company where he helped carrying the missiles. Along with the Polish Army he was transferred to the Italy to fought with the Axis forces in the siege of Monte Cassino, helping with breaking the Gustav Line. After successful fights on the front and defeating the enemy, a bear carrying artillery missile become a symbol of 22nd Company and surely he spread the fear among the enemy lines!
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